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Why its a good idea to make practice speed-paintings with a theme of study in mind.

When doing one hour speed-painting practice studies, it is a useful idea to make them with a specific subject in mind that is wished to be explored. For instance when an artist wants to create a specific digital painting but requires more photo reference or guidance as to how to paint certain objects or lighting, it is useful to make studies of existing photographs or screenshots from videos that help to visualize how for example directional lighting interacts with objects in the scene.


*2 hour shot study from "There Will be Blood"

*2 hour shot study from "Dunkirk"


The two examples that I have to show with a specific theme in mind are two shot studies from different movies. One is from “There Will be Blood” and the other is from “Dunkirk”. The similarity between them is the study of fire, but the study focus is specifically how it interacts with its surrounding space, how it changes the mood of the scene and how it affects the overall compositions. When fire is used for cinematic shots, the intent tends to be to convey a certain dramatic ambiance of destruction or the unmaking of something in a very visible way.

The light produced by the fire in the scene from Dunkirk interacts very differently with the surrounding objects when compared to the scene from There Will be Blood. In the case of the scene from Dunkirk, the pilot standing in front of the burning Spitfire plane blocks some of the light that is coming from the burning plane, so he appears as more of a shadow since the ambient light around him is low. It is interesting to note that the flames slightly behind the propeller in front do not light the propeller very much, leaving a stark contrast between the yellowish colors and a close-to-black color of the propeller blades.


The scene from “There Will be Blood” is from a moment in the movie when a rustic oil rig catches fire, and the fire extends into the night, leaving a monumental blaze that emerges from the ground. The composition is different, although the fire retains more or less the same characteristics irrespective of the time of day. This composition is interesting because the fire takes a larger portion of the shot, hinting at the scale of the fire that is shown. Because the size of the flame in front of the human figures that are watching it from afar, and because there is no other ambient light that is illuminating them, their shadows are not completely black. In fact their shadows appear as more of a dark brown because of the intense light that is bouncing around them and slightly illuminating them from the back. The figure thats is standing right in front of the emerging flame in relation to the camera has a slightly lighter shade of brown that is composing his shadow, when compared to the others.


Some other interesting thing to note about this shot is that the human figures that are standing to the right of the flame increasingly fade out depending on their relative position to the right. This is because the dust particles that are flying away from the site of the flame make the travel of light more difficult, and their light frequencies are partially absorbed. The visual effect is that their shadow in grayscale value is similar to the value of the smoke particles, which makes them appear faded.

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